January 15, 2003
Going bananas. The only fruit to ever appear on a Velvet Underground album cover (not to mention the title of a J. D. Salinger short story) may be on its way to extinction. Facts: I) total disappearance could occur within a decade; II) bananas are the staple diet for half a billion people and III) current genetic tampering mean that, even if the fruit doesn't quite disappear, it will taste and look different (Guardian article here). Feeling nostalgic already? Visit the stylish Banana Museum or give someone you love the Enchanted Banana of Happiness (not what you're thinking). first link via Fark
The catacombs of Paris are an immense maze of tunnels dug under the city. In 1786, all the bodies from Cimetiere des Innocents were exhumed and moved into the tunnels. A sign above the door reads: Stop! Here is the empire of the dead... For a significantly less creepy (and infinitely cool) city under the city experience, check out the Seattle Underground tour.
"Madelyn Murray O’Hair In Hell" is difficult to describe... Danté meets Seinfeld? I dunno... but it's damn funny—and just a little thought provoking. I can't wait for the next installment! Brought to you by the good folks over at The Morning News.
Hot seat. It probably seemed like a good idea at the time, when the staff at this radio station had one of those dynamic, 'brainstorming' sessions, to dream up 'wacky' new competitions for their listeners... Now they're going to have their asses sued.
Losing the memories of a life. A staff writer for the Washington Post Magazine tells what it's like to watch his mother slip away to the unknown world of Alzheimer's disease. There's a little bit about possible causes and the science of the disease, but mostly it's a very personal story, and it's stayed with me since I read it. Excerpt: "He changed the subject before the fury came. When she became angry or terribly disoriented, she sometimes told him he needed to go home; that her husband would be arriving soon, and that he better be gone. I am your husband, he would say, smiling. She would yell: Go. Go home."
The end of Vinyl II? Stanton ships Final Scratch, which enables a DJ to manipulate (mix, scratch, cut...) any music on their PC with their turntables. Besides not needing to carry all the weight and bulk of crates of records around, DJs can now skip the expensive and complicated step of cutting their own records in order to play original tracks. Is vinyl going to die for real this time?
The most mysterious manuscript in the world. The Voynich Manuscript is 235 page manuscript written in a cipher that has yet to be decoded. The manuscript includes many images. Almost all pages of the manuscript are available online. There have also been several books (1,2)written claiming to solve the manuscript. You can also follow the modern day progress of deciphering the Voynich manuscript.
William Shatner's SpplatAttack was one of the biggest paintball events in 2002. There were a couple of other mefi threads on it earlier last year [here and here]. In December Shatner released a DVD of the event. Maurice Gibb, who died just the other day, owned a paintball shop and other celebs like Tommy Lee are rumored to be huge paintball fans. Is this the next extreme sport? How many mefi'ers play?
US income distribution moves towards 3rd world profile? - US Census Bureau data on growing family income inequality, 1947 to 2001. Also see: The "L Curve" (for a graphic depiction of current US wealth distribution). "The most egalitarian countries have a Gini index in the 20s. European countries like Germany, Austria, Belgium, Hungary, Poland, Norway, and Sweden all fall in that range, according to World Bank figures. Canada and Australia are just over 30. The United States is around 40...Once inequality reaches 50 percent, disparities become glaringly obvious, to the point where they undermine a society's sense of unity and common purpose....Sierra Leone takes the prize. At 63 percent, it offers the world's most extreme example of inequality." By multiple measures, income inequality in the US is rapidly increasing, and a substantial percentage of middle class Americans may be gradually sliding into poverty..
Best ad campaigns of the last 20 years Adweek posts its list of the 20 best ad campaigns over the last 20 years. Of the 20, two were single commercials rather than entire campaigns. One was Apple's "1984" ad; I won't spoil the other one for you.
Space Cab takes Lander-style Flash games to their logical conclusion.
"The world wide web was supposed to be pistachio". Say that three time fast, then visit the internet database of tongue twisters, shibboleths, and battologisms; over 2,000 frustrating, word-mangling, syntax-slaughtering entries in 90 languages, with translations. Also worth a look: the short list of devious one-liners.
An Exciting Game Your Whole Family Will Enjoy for Years to Come! In wishing warmer weather wasn't a few months away, and a search for odd or unique sports, washer pitching came up. But wait, the game quoits may be the predecessor to horseshoes and washer pitching. Both these games have a regional following. What are some other games people play that have a local or regional appeal?
Outspoken Vidal makes dire accusations I have always liked Vidal for his skills as a writer and his wit and his literary criticism...he seemed, though to be getting odd when he shifted from light humor about the Amreican political game to his mpore recent serious charges against American "imperialism." Is he to be quicly dismissed as getting senile or is he perhaps on to something, since he usually supports with examples those things he attacks.
The Supreme Court has ruled, seven to two, that the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998 is not unconstitutional. The act automatically extended copyright by an additional 20 years, delaying by those two decades the entry of works into the public domain. Lawrence Lessig and others have argued that the Act places unreasonable and unnecessary bounds on the potential of the Internet, as well as effectively rendering unobtainable many works from the early decades of the twentieth century.
What should I pack? According to the official list Toy Transformer Robots are OK (presumably real ones are not), but I'll have to put my throwing stars in my checked luggage.
The Jivaro are primarily known for their shrunken heads, but when one woman told another about a childhood memory, the search for the shrunken men began. (from the Morbid Fact Du Jour)